Research on Families, Faith, and Congregational Life

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Wed, 05/01/1996
End Date: 
Wed, 12/31/1997

Diana Garland and Carol Lytch of Louisville Presbyterian Seminary conducted a national study of selected congregations in four denominations: National Baptist Convention, Presbyterian Church (USA), Southern Baptist Convention, and the United Methodist Church; the study sought to understand the nature of families in these congregations, the families' religious lives, and the nature of family ministries within these congregations. The second part of the project explored in depth the transmission of religious values from parents to older adolescents.

Using a qualitative ethnographic method, the Garland interviewed families in the selected congregations of four denominations listed earlier. Using a questionnaire she had developed, Garland studied the religious and congregational lives of the families she had interviewed. Based on her findings, Garland wrote “Family Ministries: A Comprehensive Guide” (Intervarsity 1999) which has been used extensively as a resource of congregational family ministries across the nation by several denominational agencies.

Carol Lytch examined the ways in which religious values are transmitted from parents to older adolescents as part of doctoral dissertation. Lytch affirmed that parents are the greatest influence on teens who develop loyalty to a religious tradition in which they are reared.